Brief Report  |   July 2012
Neuromuscular Electrical Stimulation–Assisted Grasp Training and Restoration of Function in the Tetraplegic Hand: A Case Series
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Rebecca Martin, OTR/L, OTD, is Occupational Therapist, International Center for Spinal Cord Injury, Kennedy Krieger Institute, 801 North Broadway, Baltimore, MD 21205; martinre@kennedykrieger.org
  • Kristin Johnston, MEd, OTR/L, OTD, is Occupational Therapist, International Center for Spinal Cord Injury, Kennedy Krieger Institute, Baltimore
  • Cristina Sadowsky, MD, is Medical Director, International Center for Spinal Cord Injury, Kennedy Krieger Institute, and Assistant Professor, Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Baltimore
  • Copyright © 2012 by the American Occupational Therapy Association, Inc.
Article Information
Musculoskeletal Impairments / Neurologic Conditions / Spinal Cord Injury / Stroke / Departments
Brief Report   |   July 2012
Neuromuscular Electrical Stimulation–Assisted Grasp Training and Restoration of Function in the Tetraplegic Hand: A Case Series
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, July/August 2012, Vol. 66, 471-477. doi:10.5014/ajot.2012.003004
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, July/August 2012, Vol. 66, 471-477. doi:10.5014/ajot.2012.003004
Abstract

OBJECTIVE. This study investigated the immediate effects of repetitive neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NMES)–assisted grasp-and-release activities on the hand of patients with tetraplegia.

METHOD. Three participants with C-5–C-6 tetraplegia underwent grasp training with sequential application of NMES to wrist extensors, finger flexors, and finger extensors to assist participants in grasping and then releasing balls. Before the intervention, participants were assessed with the Jebsen–Taylor Hand Function Test and the Box and Block Test. They were evaluated with the same measures after the first and eighth sessions of intervention. Participants participated in eight 30-min sessions over 14 days.

RESULTS. Within-participant improvements in performance were observed in all outcome measures. Subtests of the Jebsen–Taylor Hand Function Test requiring grasping function showed the greatest improvements. Participants reported reduction of spasticity and more effective grasp.

CONCLUSION. NMES-assisted grasp paired with repetitive task practice resulted in improved performance on functional tests and subjectively improved hand function in the participants.